Monthly Archives: August 2013

Setting up a Councillor Blog – My experiences by @Huxley06

As a brand new Councillor, and a keen evangelist for all social tools and as many ways to connect as possible, I was keen to blog but want to get content and style fit for purpose. So I considered these questions:

  • Who am I blogging for?
  •  Why am I blogging?
  • Where can I find ideas about approach and style?

Who am I blogging for?

My primary audience is definitely my ward communities. I have twitter to talk to work and other connections; I have facebook to connect with activists. Although, I have to acknowledge that there is a secondary set of audiences:

  • Activists (and I want them to be motivated to come out and help me campaign when I need it and also to feel informed about what I have done)
  • Opposition parties (I need to be aware that they will look for mistakes especially nearer election time)
  • Officers – Council officers will read this and my tone must not demotivate them even when I am challenging on issue
  •  Journalists – another local councillor from a different party regularly finds his blog posts in the headlines. There was an interesting twitter exchange between him and the journalist about legalities of using most of a blog post in a story – it is legal btw.

Why am I blogging?  

         Transparency and accountability – First, I believe its right to report back to the ward on how I am spending my time, and how I am prioritising issues.

         Open thinking – I will also describe my approach. For example, I think a ‘back to the floor’ approach essential in understanding the impact of policies at the sharp end. I am also enthusiastic about learning from others and so is my group leader. We will be doing a series of study visits to other councils soon. I am going to blog my experiences…this way, ward communities will understand the steps towards policy formulation as it will be laid out in almost real time.

         Sharing stories – It is important to reflect the community back to itself through photos and stories. This kind of evidence helps when developing a policy which some people aren’t affected by. If they can see that it affects their neighbours and how, they will support me putting time into it. It also demonstrates that I am listening and, also important, who I am listening to.

There are probably other benefits but these are the ones that popped into my mind as my priorities.

Ideas for approach and style

I was looking for a cross party mix of examples, also ones that are more ward-focused than focused at another audience (eg. Politicos)

Brighton and Hove Cllr Graham Cox (Conservative) This blog is very friendly and takes a largely ‘educational’ approach… demystifying decisions and council procedures for the average person ultimately, of course to persuade. Cllr Cox also describes his impact.

Cornwall Cllr Jeremy Rowe (Lib Dem) This blog, at least, for me seemed outwardly focused and very much an opposition style, reporting and critiquing another party. It’s not an approach I would take, but if my secondary audiences (activists, journalists)  were the primary audience…then I suspect it would be very effective.

Devon Cllr Claire Wright (Independent) I was keen to have an example of an Independent Councillor and I really like Claire’s. It’s very clear, she is making herself accountable and people are commenting on her blog which is difficult to achieve. I suppose demographically I relate to Claire too and her photos and bio are very engaging and friendly.

Kirklees Cllr Andrew Cooper (Green) Here I particularly liked the Annual Report post that Andrew does. It’s a nice way of being accountable to his ward. There is a lot of policy narrative on this blog as well, which isn’t, yet, in my list of objectives.

Torbay Cllr Alison Hernandez (Conservative) use of audioboo interviews which is very effective for the sharing of evidence, and the showing people who she is listening to element of my objectives.

Anyway, if you are curious, here is my first post!

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Filed under The Networked Councillor

Chat on Twitter – about blogging well as a councillor

Our own Emma Daniel has captured a very interesting Networked Councillor-themed conversation between her and other councillors: Rowan Draper, Alison Hernandez and Jon Harvey. She has created a Storify – read it here.

I thought it worth sharing on the blog too, since the chat concentrates on blogging – and, er… what better place to mark that than on a blog, right?

Cllr Rowan Draper started things off by asking if anyone had tips on more successful blogging. Here are some of the advice he was given:-

  • Cllr Emma Daniel: “@Rowan_Draper look for people who have the networks you want to reach, cc them in your blog posts and ask for feedback and comments.”
  • Cllr Emma Daniel: “@Rowan_Draper a poll might provide feedback also, storify twitter feedback.”
  • Cllr Alison Hernandez: “@Rowan_Draper @huxley06 you need to get in the thick of it. I could film, photograph, interview, write about folk every minute of every day.”

There was even some advice on the style of photo that might be appropriate for a political blog, with Alison Hernandez suggesting he needed to pick a different, more approachable angle for the shot. Cllr Jon Harvey also chipped with some advice of a different nature. He said:-

The conversation also touched on other issues – this is very much edited highlights – so please do have a look at the Storify for the full version.

 

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Filed under Project update, The Networked Councillor